I wish laws prohibiting "bait and switch" sales techniques applied to officials at the City of Salem.
Because yesterday I was notified that the cost of a public records request I submitted relating to the Proud Boys gun rally at Riverfront Park on May 1 had jumped from $302 to $900 -- after I'd already paid the $302.
Here's the message I got.
Read it and see if you think it's fair that a citizen activist like me should have to pay $900 to learn why, and how, two changes to a City of Salem parks reservation web page were made, along with getting copies of park reservation requests submitted between March 27 and April 30 of this year.
The greatly increased cost came after I was told by city staff that I needed to know what I was trying to learn before my public records request could be fulfilled.
I responded that this was ridiculous, though the author of "Catch-22" would be pleased. See my blog post, "To get public records, city officials want me to know what I seek to learn."
Now it looks like I'm faced with a tough choice.
If I don't pay the additional $597, I can't get the public records I'm seeking. But I figured that the $302 I was originally told would be the cost to fulfill the public records request was close to being the final amount.
I'll ponder things over the Memorial Day weekend.
Interestingly, I just came across a story from 2014 in the Ann Arbor Independent newspaper about how Steve Powers, City Manager for the City of Salem, was involved in a public records controversy back when he was the Ann Arbor city administrator.
You can see that originally 4.5 hours of staff time was needed to fulfill my request. Now supposedly 16.5 hours of staff time are required. Something is wrong at the City of Salem. That's an absurd amount of time to fulfill a simple public records request.
If city officials don't want to be accused of engaging in a cover-up of how they handled the May 1 Proud Boys gun rally, they shouldn't be making it so difficult for concerned citizens to learn more about this.
I asked for a fee waiver because my public record request was in the public interest and my blog posts about the May 1 gun rally had attracted more than 7,000 page views, but the request was denied.